Thursday, April 10, 2003

The Needs for Laws and Enforcement... Most People Are Just Wimps

Another Reason Why Legalizing Drugs is Stupid

I've been in Asia, primarily Korea, for the past three years. I came here forced by my two friends to help build a U.S. tech company's operations in Korea. Even though I miss the U.S. often, my stay has been pleasant because I have so many family members here and great friends.

Living out in Asia has also been beneficial in developing my political and social views. Though Korea is top ten globally in terms of economic power, it is still second tier in terms of social and political development. One thing that you will notice is the lack of enforcement of laws and punishment. In business, it is still common for people to ask for deals underneath the table and bribes. Government officials, journalists, corporate managers, and so on.

The police are a joke in Korea. There is very little fear of punishment among its citizens and actual enforcement of laws by police. For example, with traffic violations, sometimes you see older men yelling at young police officers to get off a violation... benefit of being older in a Confucian society. Other times a policeman will ask for "dinner" money to get you off a violation... friends told me that 20 to 50 bucks will do. I don't have to worry about such hassles since I have an international drivers license, so they let me go because they don't want to do the extra paperwork involved.

Anyway, living out here has allowed me to appreciate the strength of the U.S. legal system and its enforcement. I'm not saying the U.S. system is without faults, loopholes, or that it's perfect, but it is a solid system that I've come to appreciate more while being out here.

I believe people are innately selfish and driven by their desires for money, sex, fame, or whatever else. Laws keep these things in check. Keeps corruption, reckless behavior, theft, and the countless numbers of crimes and unethical behavior to a minimum. Before I moved out here, I thought I didn't have so much of a self-righteous attitude. Before I came out here I saw myself as a Christian with a view that I am no better than anyone else. I am a sinner period as God saw everyone else, and I am probably a worse than most people.

But I began to judge native Koreans... How can they treat women like that? What are they thinking when they try to cut a deal short? How can they be so short-sighted? No consciousness of date rape... so much corruption... legal system is a joke.

After a year or so, I took a step back an realized again that I am really no better. I sometimes had to catch myself when faced with various temptations or short-cuts. And I began to ask myself, who am I to judge or say such things? I realized that laws and their enforcement really do make a difference in a society and nation. I don't believe laws can create morality, but they do create barriers for unwanted behaviors or ones that will have a negative effect on society as a whole.

The average person is risk averse. If the consequences or punishment is great enough, most people will not engage in illegal or unethical behavior. I really began to realize this while living in Asia. Seeing another society and culture operate, showed me how laws, or lack of laws, can effect a society and really made some of my prior opinions clearer. Such as the legalization of drugs in the U.S. Some proponents of legalizing drugs argue that enforcement is a joke and that everyone does it, so what is the use of making them illegal?. Of course this is far from the case and laws were really never meant to eliminate ALL or be an ultimate cure of any social problem. Laws were set up as a barrier and more and more as I get older I realize that most people are wimps. They might do something once or twice to say that they did it or to experience a rush in life, but most people will not jump the legal barrier often. So making drugs illegal creates a barrier for most people. Obviously I'm simplifying the argument for this topic, so please understand why I didn't go into the more complex issues involved.

I believe for Korea to take the next stage of development, it really needs to revamp its legal system, increase its enforcement of laws, and create new laws for its citizens, corporations, and overall environment.